If you are going to hike in the Swiss Alps, it’s important you prepare appropriately. Despite the beauty of the area, there’s a lot of wildness left too. There are trail markings which warn you of the difficulty of certain trails: yellow markings are generally safe for everyone; white and red marks indicate a mountain trail. Blue markings denote more advanced trails which we advise you to do with a guide, a lot of prior preparation, or only if you’re very experienced.
General dos and don’ts when hiking in the Alps:
- Stick to the trail. Even parts of the trail may not be 100% safe, so you definitely shouldn’t venture off on your own.
- Even the marked trails are not prepared with concrete or pavement. They’re rocky trails you may have to scramble over. Wear sensible footwear and watch where you’re walking.
- If you come across a slope with loose rocks on it, don’t pause there.
It may have been the site of a rockslide in the past, and that can happen again at any time.
If you come across fields with livestock, you may even need to cross them.
Don’t interfere with the animals, close any gates behind you, and especially don’t try to feed the animals or get between a mother and a baby.
- Do not throw away any trash, even biodegradable trash. The saying “leave only footprints, take only photographs” is a good one to live by. Tourists could ruin these beautiful landscapes if we don’t take care!
- If the weather turns bad, take the shortest route to safety. People die in the Alps; it isn’t just a matter of getting a little wet or cold.
- If you need to signal a helicopter for help, wave to them. You should form your body into a ‘Y’ shape, like in the YMCA dance, and wave so that movement can catch their attention. Waving something brightly colored may also help.
- Don’t go up without a phone. You may need to contact emergency services. If someone is hurt, don’t move them, but wrap them up as warmly as you can and try to get signal for your phone. Leave someone with them if possible even if you have to leave the immediate area to get mobile signal.
- If you have a guide (and we definitely recommend that for more advanced hiking trails), listen to what they say. They know best and can protect you.
It’s important to remember that most of this advice is a worst case scenario. You will probably not run into any problems at all!